There are some people who are lucky enough to be born with a gift of talent. The question that often comes up, especially when this gift goes up against the world they live in, will they follow their gift or will they tow the line and pretend that they are satisfied?
Talia Carner’s 2011 book, Jerusalem Maiden, revolves around this conflict. In the last days of the Ottoman Empire, Esther Kaminsky is a young Haredi woman living in Jerusalem. Her life is laid out for her. Within a few short years, she is expected to marry a young man chosen for her, bring his children into the world, keep his house and live the life that women in her community have lived for centuries.
Other girls might be satisfied to live this way, but not Esther. She is a gifted artist living in a community where art is forbidden and a young lady, especially an unmarried young lady is expected to live and act a certain way. Just as Esther is about to rebel and choose her own life instead of living the life expected of her, tragedy visits her family. She must choose between her heart and the obligations that weigh on her young shoulders.
This book was recommended to me and and I am very glad that it was. Stories of young people rebelling from strict religious doctrines are not new. What makes this story stand out is Esther’s choices and how she works to find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants from life. I especially appreciated the ending. While it was not the typical ending for a story of this nature, it felt like appropriate.
I highly recommend it.